The Biden administration, in accordance with the Paris Agreement, targets a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in order to avoid the most damaging effects of climate change. Because it contributes almost 30% of GHG emissions the transportation sector is a ready focus for transformation. Reducing the amount people drive, increasing the use of transit, building better infrastructure for people to safely walk and bike, and electrification are common goals. But changes to land use policy are often missing from this equation. To this end, the researchers at the Rocky Mountain Institute have begun to examine how changing land-use patterns might help curb GHG emissions.
The argument for ending single-family zoning
An article in the latest issue of the JAPA makes a case for getting rid of single-family zoning in U.S. cities. The authors argue that single-family zoning exacerbates inequality and promotes the inefficient use of valuable urban land. By excluding other types of development, R1 zoning produces a housing scarcity in desirable places, which pushes prices up and excludes all but wealthy residents.
Cities and developers are preparing for a world with less parking
Chandler, AZ, may be the first city to recognize that apartment dwellers will need less parking in the future. In anticipation of autonomous vehicles, the city is changing its zoning code to loosen parking minimums in new buildings. Developers welcome such flexibility, as building parking can be expensive and AVs and other emerging technologies, such as ridesharing and bikesharing, are reducing the need for tenants to own personal cars.
San Francisco updates planning code with TDM measures
San Francisco has approved an amendment to its existing planning code that incorporates an ambitious transportation demand management program for future residential and commercial development. Working to manage its transportation system across modes in the growing city, San Francisco will now require TDM measures for new developments for a variety of land uses.
How a Chicago suburb became car-lite and lessons for other communities
In a provocatively titled article—The Suburb That Tried to Kill the Car—Politico digs into how the Chicago suburb of Evanston reinvented itself through transit-oriented development. It is a tale with lessons for many other communities about the interplay and delicate balance of land use, transportation options, parking, zoning, tax revenues, affordable housing, and attracting new development.
Can BRT drive TOD? Yes, with the right government support
Conventional wisdom asserts that rail does a better job of spurring transit-oriented development than a bus rapid transit line, but until now no one has quantified the return on investment with a BRT line. A new study released by ITDP this week attempts to quantify the TOD potential of these transit options and find that, “Per dollar of transit investment, and under similar conditions, Bus Rapid Transit leverages more transit-oriented development investment than Light Rail Transit or streetcars.”
American parking requirements: Massive (mostly), arbitrary, and costly
The large supply of parking has become a key concern in transportation and land use planning. Lots of parking makes it difficult for non-motorized modes to function, shifts costs from drivers to others, encourages SOV use, reduces available land for higher and better uses, creates stormwater issues, and so forth. One factor driving the prevalence of parking is regulation through zoning codes that impose parking minimums.
Ready. Transit. Go: Lining up development to meet current and future transportation demands
A recent study by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota considers the perspective of developers and business leaders interested in developing TOD sites in the Twin Cities. The study finds that there is an unmet demand for TOD and other walkable, multimodal transportation infrastructure. However, encouraging walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods will require the different actors involved—developers, business owners, and municipalities—to work together to develop a new suite of policies, zoning codes, and other ordinances that will foster this type of development.
Shining a light: New York City’s new zoning handbook
In releasing a new zoning handbook, New York City’s Planning Commissioner, Amanda Burden, extolled its virtues: “Zoning is the language of the city, it is a three-dimensional blueprint for what any area of the city …